I'm a devoted practitioner of Ashtanga yoga under the late Pattabhi Jois teacher lineage and have been practising yoga for 9 years.
My teacher is based at a shala in London. I don't go often and so have a solitary 'Mysore style' practice at 5 am, 6 days a week. It's more a way of life than a discipline and it has taken years to get used to an early morning practice. I remember a teacher saying to me once that practising yoga at that time of the morning will soon become akin to brushing your teeth every day. I couldn't quite get it at that time, but after years of getting myself on the mat, regardless of how I felt, it truly has become just that.
I've never really found any other exercise that works alongside yoga, although I've tried, and agree hugely with the saying that there can only be one master. However, 5 years ago I started swimming and after just a few sessions, I realised it just worked. In fact I loved it; there's something really relaxing about being immersed in water and being a water/moon sign, it kind of makes sense that it resonated so much with me. Other exercise always seemed to work in opposition to yoga, but maybe because swimming is in a way an all over body activity, much like yoga, it worked with it. There were times when the swimming would increase and the yoga would suffer, bizarrely never the other way around, and after some time I found the balance with swimming 3 times a week. About 6 months ago though I started to get pain in my knee. Just subtle at first, but as the months wore on it started to affect my yoga practice. At times it was painful to bend my knee into Padmasana or crossing my legs jumping through in vinyasa. Was it swimming?
I banished the thought and continued, but ignorance was not bliss and the pain became more problematic. I sought the advice of a sports physio, who advised it wasn't in fact my knee but my sartorial muscle, where it becomes tendon close to my knee. My breaststroke leg action being the problem. In my usual 'Google fanatic' fashion I found solace in YouTube and watched some Olympic swimmers who demonstrated different breast stroke leg techniques. Finally, the answer!
Or not. Although the leg movement changes were subtle, they were enough to make the swim experience a different one. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it removed the relaxation element and although it was always great what swimming did to tone my body, a large part of it was how it made me feel. That had gone. It was more like I was having a stroke than doing one. Still, I battled on, determined to master the new breast stroke kick.
Finally, last Saturday, actually, I decided enough was enough. If the relaxation and enjoyment that made me love swimming so much had gone, then perhaps it was time to let the swimming go too. I mean it's not to say I can't ever swim, but I realised my body was telling me otherwise and that for now I needed to let it go. I cancelled the membership where I swam and pondered about what to do next...
Being a solitary soul (I work from home so spend most of my day alone) I decided I needed to join some classes, find new activities and meet other people. When I say solitary soul, I mean I am a bit of a hermit. I'll make plans to go mix with the people of the world and then change my mind and retreat back into my home sanctuary. It's not that I don't like people, I guess I've just allowed myself to become that way.
I concluded, what better class activity works better with yoga than yoga! Apart from when I did my teacher training and the odd Ashtanga class with the teacher lineage under which I practice, I've never attended yoga classes...
... and so begins my journey. Being the all or nothing girl I am, I decided I'd do a gargantuan journey through as many different yoga classes as I could; no expectation. Ashtanga is woven intrinsically into my being and remains in my heart to be savoured at 5 am, but the classes, well who knows.
The sacred number.
108 connects the moon, sun and earth. The average distance of the moon, sun and earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
According to ancient Vedic wisdom (the oldest in the world) 108 is the number of wholeness of existence. There are 108 sacred sites, known as pithas (no not the bread kind!) throughout India, 108 Upanishads (Sanskrit collection of ancient texts central to Buddhism and Hinduism) and 108 marma points (sometimes known as pressure points) that are deemed sacred places throughout the body. There are also many other significant references to 108 being a sacred number.
Traditionally, prayer beads, often called garlands or malas come in a string of 108 beads, plus one which represents the guru bead. You use the mala to count as you repeat a mantra (not Hail Mary!)
The 108 beads circle the guru bead much like the planets circle the sun.
Yogis often give reverence to 108 by performing 108 surya namaskar or sun salutations at Spring Equinox.
Well for me, 108 weaved its magic into my life in the form of the number of classes I am going to attend... the first one I have to say wasn't quite the starting point I had hoped for...
So many hats.
My daughter calls me, Miss Formal Mummy, my kids think I am posh :) Yoga saved my life, literally and I am a devoted practitioner of Ashtanga yoga which I practice 6 days a week at 5 am. I am a writer, have always been right from being 7 and having a blue typewriter which I tapped out stories on, actually wishing I was going to grow up to be an air hostess! I love photography, in all it's guises, especially black and white. In between, I am a brand and marketing queen, well the day job, subject to change of course.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9191954
As a massage therapist and yoga teacher I am asked a lot about the best way to treat chronic muscular pain, particularly back pain.
Some people don't see the value in stretching or just can't see themselves following a stretch routine, others don't see the value of massage therapy as a long term solution to their problems given the time and costs involved.
The truth is that if you are living with chronic pain due to muscle spasm, chronic hypertonicity (excessive muscle tone or tightness) or as a result of soft tissue trauma, then a combination of these two may possibly be the most effective treatment.
Yoga vs. Massage for tight muscle tissue
There are very specific differences between massage and stretching and both have been proven time and again through clinical trials to be effective in lengthening (reducing hypertonicity in) muscle tissue. If you are currently in pain with restricted range of motion then a course of therapeutic massage will be far better than a yoga class to begin with. While stretching lengthens contracted muscle tissue it can only do so in the direction of the muscle fibres. This means that adhesions or scar tissue which may be contributing to pain and which may not be formed in the direction of the muscle fibre will not be affected by your stretches.
Deep Tissue Cross-Fibre Massage Therapy
Initial massage therapy work, particularly deep Tuina work, Soft Tissue Release or Myofascial Release techniques will work cross-fibre, stretching the contracted tissue not only from origin to insertion of the muscle, but also separating the fibres as the massage strokes work from one side of the muscle to the other.
Both are good? So which do I get first?
Once adhesions and scar tissue have been worked out this way, allowing for safer pain free stretching of muscle tissue to occur, it is important to learn how to stretch to maintain and improve the length in the tissue and prevent future injury.
So if you are in pain, get the massage or first, follow up with the yoga stretches afterwards. It couldn't simpler (or more enjoyable)!
__Should I Be Drinking Coffee if I'm a Serious Yogi?
Coffee dehydrates and thus makes you more stiff. Greens and juices make you more flexible. Therefore give up coffee and drink juices, correct? On the other hand, research has shown that drinking at least 3 cups of coffee per day may be linked to the prevention of alzheimers. Additional very large scale and significant studies have shown that drinking up to 4 cups a day significantly lowers your risk of developing diabetes and is not linked in any way to increased rates of heart disease or cancer. So which do you prefer - an elevated risk of alzheimers or slightly reduced flexibility? As coffee is certainly a dehydrating diuretic, the recommendation is that you drink water with your coffee as is practiced in many serious coffee drinking countries. In the middle east for example, where thick ultra strong Turkish coffee is the norm, a glass of water is always offered to accompany your caffeine of choice.
Follow these links if you want more detail:
Coffee & Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease
Coffee & Alzheimers
Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga allegedly always had a cup first thing in the morning before his legendary practice, as did one of my own teacher's gurus, Swami Nada Brahmananda. Although a coffee addiction is of course to be avoided, my own personal opinion is to not be fanatical about it. If you enjoy a cup then go ahead and don't feel guilty up to about four cups a day because current research shows that this is good for you. It may reduce your flexbility very marginally but unless you are entering the Yoga Olympics, this is a very balanced trade off. If you aren't going for gold, then you would be advised to go ahead and have that brain stimulating cup of coffee first thing in the morning with a glass of rehydrating water. Then later in the day have your flexiblity enhancing juice and you will be balancing the best of both worlds!
PS This is not medical advice so if you have any doubts please DO consult your GP!
So what is Yoga-Pilates Fusion?
In a nutshell, yoga will develop a flexible body and calm mind, Pilates will develop core strength and is excellent to alleviate and prevent certain kinds of back pain. Yoga-Pilates fusion brings the advantages of these two kinds of exercise together so you don't have to choose between the two.
The first class in the new course just took place today, Tuesday Feb. 7th at 9.30am in the beautiful Spotlight Studio on Main St. Arklow. New courses will be starting soon on Wed and Thursday morning at the Ananta Yoga Studio and Friday morning at the Gorey Holistic Centre. This is a perfect time to start. You can drop the kids off to creche or school and have your workout completed by 10.30, ready to head to work or home to chill out before picking up your little one again or into town for a well-earned latte before you get back into action again.
Keep an eye on the schedule at http://www.therapyandyoga.com/timetable.html for new classes always make sure to text before joining a new class as timetable always subject to change.
Some interesting research on Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In a long term study done on 77 patients in the Department of Neurology, Kuang Tien General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan acupuncture was found to be an effective alternative to oral steroids! You can check out the details here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21111685
I'm adding three new classes to the schedule which will work well for people dropping off children to school or who have a late morning working start. All three new classes will be a seamless fusion of Pilates exercises with Yoga poses, so perfect for the indecisive and for the hyper efficient who want to combine all the core strengthening of Pilates with the flexibility and strength of Yoga into just one hour.
I'm including a promtional rate of half off for anyone who brings a friend (for both you AND your friend) for the first month. Standard rates are Eur 15 drop in, Eur 50 for one calender month or Eur 80 for two months. The Friday class will be a little less as there are only three weeks in February, so just Eur 40 for those three weeks or Eur 70 to pay through March.
And of course those who pay for unlimited access to classes will NOT need to pay any extra for these new hours :-)
Tuesday - starting February 7th
Class: Yoga-Pilates Fusion Class mixed beginners
Time: 9.30am to 10.30pm
Venue: Spotlight Academy of Theatre Arts, Upper Main St, Arklow
Class: Yoga-Pilates Fusion Class mixed beginners
Time: 11.30am to 12.30pm
Venue: Ananta Yoga Studio, N11, over Romany Stone / The Tap
Friday - starting February 10th
Class: Yoga-Pilates Fusion Class mixed beginners
Time: 9.30am to 10.30pm
Venue: Hillcrest Gorey Holistic Centre, Fort Rd, Gorey, Co. Wexford
As both a Yoga Teacher and a Pilates Teacher I often get asked the question which is better for a client to do, Yoga or Pilates? Sometimes the question is phrased as 'which is better?' and at times one could get the impression that there is mutual disdain between Pilates and Yoga Teachers.
From my perspective there is zero conflict and in fact the two work very well together. However, which one is better for you?
Pilates is certainly more focused on strenghtening your core than Yoga and I have seen yoga students progress rapidly in poses such as Tolasana or Pendulum pose when they have started to do real core strengthening work in Pilates class.
Likewise, clients who have been doing Pilates for a while and have reaped the benefits of increased joint mobility, strengthened and toned mid-section and core but still remain relatively tight in hamstrings and hips, will gain flexibility much more rapidly in a Yoga class.
The question isn't which is better, but which is better for you.
If you are unsure as to which class is better for you just send a quick email to email@example.com or contact me at www.facebook.com/therapy.yoga and I will be happy to help you choose the class or combination of classes that is right for you.
Liam Byrne, Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Acupuncturist, Physical Therapist, Sports Massage Therapist,